If you’ve been on the internet for 5 minutes in the last few months, you know all about the lockbox and gambling controversies currently ongoing in the gaming world. You see them popping up with increasing regularity in single player games. There are now even incentives for watching people open loot boxes in another game, and MMOs aren’t immune to this controversy either. This week, we saw the Guild Wars 2 Mount Skin controversy occur and it is absolutely dominating everything about the game right now.
For those who have somehow missed it, here’s a quick rundown of what happened.
On Tuesday, Guild Wars 2 introduced 30 new mount skins to the game which could only be purchased in the gem store. You have a few options to buy them. The first is to buy all of them at once, which would cost you $120 in gems. You can also buy them in packs of 10 for 3,400 gems which, if you have no gems on your account, you’re looking at a spend of around $50. The final option is to buy them one at a time for 400 gems, $5.
You can convert in game gold into gems but while that will work for a few shots at the 400 gem price tag, I’m not sure anyone is insane enough to buy up all 9,600 gems via in-game farming. The problem with buying them in smaller batches is that you do not get the ability to pick which one you receive, it’s up to the whims of RNG to determine which mount skin you’ve bought. Some of these skins are better than others and everyone has that one they really want, but the odds aren’t really in their favor. The reaction to these skins has completely dominated all discussions related to GW2 this week. It has even been covered by Jim Sterling in a video that has been viewed 106,000 times as of writing this.
I bought one of the 10 pack of mount skins as I had a bit over 2,000ish gems sitting on my account still from buying the ultimate edition of Path of Fire, and getting the rest of the gems I needed for it would only cost me €10, so in my eyes, I was effectively only paying €10 for 10 mount skins. Not a bad price I’d say. This morning I considered buying another 10 pack, but doing so would have required me to spend €50 on gems. That was enough for me to stop and say no, especially, as stated, there’s no guarantee on the skins I will get, only that there will be no duplicates.
Looking at the 10 skins I got, I’m actually pretty happy. Most of them are the ones that are just different patterns. I got one that I absolutely won’t use at all and two that I adore. All in all, I found myself liking and would have bought 17 of the 30 skins so I felt like I had pretty good chances of getting ones that I liked. The biggest disappointment for me is that they were a little too random. I didn’t get any of the Jackal skins at all, but on the other hand, I did get almost all of the griffon skins.
However, there’s something I do that is usually a disadvantage for me, but in this case, has worked out in my favor. I have alts. A lot of alts. Almost 30 of them, in fact. So because of this, I’m perfectly happy to have 5 different griffon skins. It means more variety between my characters, but if I only had one character or a couple of them, there’s a greater chance of getting something I don’t like and won’t use. Basically, because I have more characters, I’m more accepting of getting the middle of the road, not my favorite skins. Most of the time, Guild Wars 2 isn’t very alt friendly but this time it pays to have an alt addiction, at least in this instance.
More than anything, I think Guild Wars 2 has failed to read the mood of their audience and keep in touch with the events that are currently taking place in the gaming industry. As of writing this piece, their response to the matter hasn’t been the best. People are claiming they’re getting 3-day bans from the forums for respectful commentary on the matter. Admittedly there will always be people responding extremely inappropriately to anything they see as a video game controversy on the fan side of the equation, so that could account for the banhammer falling hard and occasionally catching respectful members under it.
They have opened up a feedback thread on the forums giving people the chance to have their opinions heard but they aren’t saying anything themselves. What I do know is that I’ve seen a lot of people in the guilds I’m in and in the world have bought at least one of these adoption tickets. I’ve seen them all from (god damn) Moon Moon to Firebird. I just wish the colors weren’t so bright. People often call it Fashion Wars, given all the outfits and dyes in the game, and true to any war there’s always a character who is nothing but an assault on the visual senses.
Obviously, all of this is part of a wider discussion the gaming community is having right now about loot boxes and gambling. At the end of the day, the best thing to do is vote with your wallet and have your voice heard. If you don’t like the direction Guild Wars 2 is taking their gem store items, let them know in a constructive way and offer alternatives that you do find acceptable. On that note, how would you fix this situation if you could? What response do you hope for from ArenaNet? What changes could be made to get you to buy them? I’d love to see your ideas in the comments.Related: ArenaNet, Column, Guild Wars 2, Loot Boxes, The Tyrian Chronicle